After determining that Greater Sudbury got the short end of the stick, a unanimous city council has asked city administrators to advocate on their behalf with the province.
At issue is the annual Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund, which allocates provincial funding to municipalities based on a set formula.
Last year, the city received $9.3 million, and this year they’ve hit the province’s imposed cap of $10 million that has been applied to single-tier municipalities such as Greater Sudbury.
This year is also unique due to the province doubling its allocation to $400 million this year among 424 communities, meaning that if not for the $10-million cap the city would have likely received $18.6 million, according to a report by city financial planning and budgeting manager Steve Facey.
Frustrating Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh is the fact that if not for the city’s 2001 amalgamation, they’d be eligible for the full sum due to the fact the city wouldn’t be classified as single-tier.
“The province amalgamated our municipality into one municipality and we’re being penalized for it,” McIntosh said during Tuesday night’s finance and administration committee meeting, urging greater action than what city administration had proposed, which involves drafting a letter to provincial officials.
A letter would open a dialogue with the province and serve as a decent first step, city CAO Ed Archer said, noting that their effort would be in collaboration with two other affected municipalities.
“We have so much here in infrastructure that we need to pay for, so I look forward to seeing updates on how well we are doing on this because it is certainly unfair,” McIntosh said.
Mayor Brian Bigger later clarified that it’s not just $8.6 million the city is talking about in conversation with the province, but that amount per year “for the foreseeable future,” which he said “really begins to add up to a lot of money.”
Further, he noted that if the province has billions of dollars to spend on a single highway in southern Ontario, they have $8 million for Greater Sudbury.
“They do have the money, they have just chosen to not send it to Sudbury,” he said.
Joining Greater Sudbury’s advocacy effort will be the two other municipalities capped at $10 million, which also includes the Municipality of Chatham-Kent and the City of Thunder Bay. Like Greater Sudbury, Chatham-Kent is an amalgamated municipality, and all three are classified as single-tier municipalities and have large rural urban areas.
A letter co-ordinated with resolutions of council from all three municipalities will be forwarded to the premier, minister of finance, minister of infrastructure, minister of municipal affairs and housing, alongside local MPPs.
Archer affirmed that they’d wait until after the June 2 election before rolling full steam ahead on the effort so they target the right people, and would also run parallel track with provincial staff members, with whom the city also has a relationship.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.